3D Spades Deluxe 2.5, by Freeverse
Posted: 14-September-2001

5 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Freeverse Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Judd Spitzer Class: GAMES
     
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Imagine yourself in a boat, on the ocean... actually a Trident submarine on patrol. This is where I learned how to play cards, and specifically, Spades. I've seen it all, different options and different rules. Being a seasoned veteran at this game, I decided to tackle it, and on the Macintosh, I found it a game worth tackling.

First off, let me explain a little about the game of Spades. Spades is a four player card game (two teams), that uses a standard deck of 52 cards. The object of the game is get to a predetermined score, usually 500, or 1000 pts. The team to get there wins. Generally, after the cards are dealt, you guess how many "Tricks" your team will take. You earn points by taking tricks. This is done by the person who leads the highest card in a suit winning the trick. It gets a bit complicated, because spade cards are Trump, meaning that if you play a spade, it can take any other suits trick. The person who wins the trick gets to lead the next trick, and everyone must play the lead suit, if they have it, or else they can "sluff" or throw off. Finally, you only want to get the amount of tricks that you guess you will get, or you can get penalized.

There are a few more peculiarities to the game, such as bidding Nil or Blind Nil, and I'll briefly touch upon that throughout this review.

Features
Whether we're talking Hearts, Spades or even Bridge, Freeverse chose to use the same interface. This really makes it easy to learn the next game, because the interfaces are very similar. The graphical backgrounds are stunning, and you really feel like your playing cards at a table rather than just viewing some computer screen.

Next thing is the Puppets. The user is presented with some colorful characters to play with. You're not just playing against the Computer, you're playing against opponents like Jen and Hal. You can download other puppets to play with and experience their quirky personalities.

There is an Auto Play feature that will play the best cards for you if you just want to sit back and watch the computer play it out for you.

Scoring is great, because it provides a running score total, providing more realistic play.

The best feature by far, however, is the Freeverse Game Server. Finally a game that you can play with real people online, and Mac people at that. You can chat with other users at the same time that you're involved in game play with the freeverse server, and have your messages pop up as speech bubbles above your puppets head. That's right, you get to choose the puppet you want to represent you in the network game. When you're happy or upset, there are emotion buttons that you can press to have your puppet express some emotion to the other users. That adds to the fun as well. Additionally, if you play online a lot, you'll find that you can get a rating to see where you stack up against your fellow players.

I was hard pressed to find any faults with the game. If there was anything to complain about, it was that I couldn't always find people online playing. Increasing the advertising of this feature could help. From a technical note of playing Spades, if a person bids Nil or Blind Nil, it would be nice to have a feature that allows the other team to change their bid. Also, there should be a feature to select a minimum bid that must be achieved. In my past experience, that is generally four tricks. Such an expanded bidding option would enhance the game.

Summary
This game, just as many of the Freeverse Games, is the best computer based Spades game I have ever played. If you haven't downloaded this game yet, I would say it is a must download, and a must buy. It's only $19.95, and worth every penny of it. You'll swear that this isn't shareware, but a fine piece of commercial software.

Pros

  • Outstanding randomization engine
  • Great adjustable computer play
  • Good game tutor for those who need it!
  • Network play
  • Realistic and stunning graphical display

Cons

  • Needs a stronger online presence
  • Could benefit from enhanced bidding options


Overall Rating

5 out of 5 Mice